Savory Tong Jyun (Sticky Rice Ball) (鹹湯圓)

Learn how to make this classic Toisanese dish (and my favorite dish of all time!)

Prep Time
60 min
Total Time
80 min
Yields
6 servings

A Recipe by Daddy Lau

My dad's been cooking Chinese food for over 50 years - as a kid fending for himself in Guangzhou, as the head chef of his own restaurant, and as a loving father in our home.

Hopefully, by learning this recipe, you'll get to experience some of the delicious joy we felt growing up eating his food!

- Randy

The ultimate bowl of soup

Tong Jyun (also spelled Tangyuan) is my favorite dish of all time! Also known as sticky rice ball soup, Tong Jyun comes in both savory and sweet varieties, and sometimes the rice balls are filled with goodies like red bean paste.

What I grew up eating is the classic savory Toisanese version, where the rice balls feel like warm hugs in your mouth and the soup is packed with flavor and textures.

Tong Jyun is traditionally eaten during the Winter Solstice or Dongzhi in Cantonese, which is one of the most important events in the Chinese calendar. In astronomy, the Winter Solstice marks the day of the year where the sun travels the shortest path through the sky, resulting in the least sunlight and the longest night of the year.

Like in many cultures throughout history, Dongzhi brings families together in a celebration of longer days, the symbolic death and rebirth of the sun, and for light triumphing over darkness.

A bowl of love

Tong Jyun is really important to me and my Chinese identity because it'll always represent the love and care I felt from my parents growing up. Because of our language barrier, I wasn't always able to communicate on a deeper level with my parents, but tangyuan was always a reminder that I am loved.

Tong Jyun was actually one of the dishes that made me want to start Made With Lau because I always wanted to make sure that I preserved my dad's recipe to pass down through the generations.

It's fitting that tangyuan is purposely shaped like a ball to symbolize the perfect, united, familial bond in Chinese culture. As our son and our future kids get older, I look forward to continuing the tradition with my family and passing it down through the generations.

Check out a quick story summary of our recipe!

Ingredients

Weight: US
oz
g
Volume: US
cup
mL
Servings
6
    Main Ingredients
  • 2 lb glutinous rice flour (

    If you are serving 3-4 people, 1lb is enough. You may need extra depending on softness/dryness later on.

    )
  • 1 oz dried shrimp
  • 1.5 oz dried shiitake mushroom
  • 5 oz fresh/thawed shrimp
  • 8 oz fish balls
  • 2 pieces Chinese sausage
  • 0.50 lb chicken breast
  • 4 oz king oyster mushroom
  • 2 lb white radish
  • 1 lb napa cabbage
  • 3 oz carrot
  • 1 handful cilantro
  • 1 handful spring onion
  • 1 piece ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 14 oz chicken broth
  • Soup Seasoning
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 0.25 tsp white pepper
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp dark soy sauce
  • 1 tsp fish sauce
  • Other Ingredients
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 0.50 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 16 oz hot water
  • 8 oz cold water
  • 6 cups water
  • 2 tbsp oil

On Rice Flour

Also known as glutinous rice or sweet rice, sticky rice is used in a lot of Asian desserts and dishes, and is a staple of Southeast Asian cuisine. 

  • Compared to regular rice, sticky rice has a shorter grain, and is missing one of the two main molecular components of starch.
    • Starch typically contains amylose and amylopectin. Sticky rice is missing amylose.
  • This makes it easier to break down in hot water, and gives the rice its namesake. 
  • Also, even though it’s called glutinous rice, it’s completely gluten-free.

If you don't live near an Asian market, you can buy this on Amazon!

Equipment Needed

With a food scale, you’re able to be much more precise and create a smaller mess than you would with measuring cups. Measuring cups are based on volume, which can vary significantly depending on how you scoop, the density of the ingredient, and etcetera. 

Wash and soak dried shrimps (1 oz) for 10 mins and dried shiitake mushrooms (1.5 oz) for 15 mins in warm water.

Devein fresh shrimps (5 oz) and marinate with cornstarch (2 tsp). This will make the shrimp a lot more tender.

Once the shiitake mushrooms are fully hydrated, cut them into slices as well as the Chinese sausages (2 pieces).

Cut the chicken breast (0.50 lb) half length-wise then into thin slices. Marinate with cornstarch (1 tbsp), salt (0.50 tsp), and water (2 tbsp).

Peel and wash the white radish (2 lb). Cut diagonally in 1/4" slices. Lay the slices down, overlapping slightly, and chop them into strips.

Cut the end off napa cabbage (1 lb), separate the leaves and wash thoroughly. Cut the stems into 1/2" pieces and continue to chop the rest of the cabbage at 1" pieces.

For the carrot (3 oz), cut into thin strips. Smash and cut ginger (1 piece) and garlic (2 cloves).

Wash and roughly chop the spring onions (1 handful) and cilantro (1 handful).

Slice the king oyster mushroom (4 oz) into 1/2" slices and cut again into 1/4" strips.

Set all ingredients to the side and make your dough.

In a large bowl, add rice flour (2 lb), stir slowly with chopsticks as you drizzle in hot water (16 oz). What you are making is a half-cooked dough. When it is safe to mix with your hands, do so and knead slowly until all the hot water has been mixed in. Add in cold water (8 oz).

You could use hot water for the total amount of water for the dough. However, it will be harder to knead at first. When we use both hot and cold water, the dough is easier to work with.

Knead the dough until well combined and becomes smooth. If the dough feels too soft, add more rice flour.

Or if you notice that the dough keeps sticking to your hands in clumps after kneading for a while, add some more rice flour to keep it from sticking to your hands. You can add about 1 oz of rice flour to the bowl with the dough and knead a bit more to make sure that it's dry enough to not stick to your hands but still maintains a slightly sticky consistency.

Dust your working surface with a bit of rice flour. Take the dough into smaller pieces and roll them into long tubes on the working surface.

Cut them into your preferred size with a knife or cutter. We suggest you make them about an inch or an inch and a half in diameter.

Take a cut piece of dough and place it between your flattened palms. The top palm should push onto the dough and roll it around until it takes the form of a ball.

In a large wok, bring water to a boil. Add your rice balls and cook them with the lid on until they float. Make sure to stir occasionally so they don't stick to the wok. You know they're done when they float to the top. This takes about 7-8 minutes.

Remove rice balls and place them into a bowl of cold water. This prevents them from being too soft to be put back into the soup. It hardens and shrinks the balls. This also prevents the glutinous rice balls from sticking and, most importantly, it helps to keep the brother of the soup clear.

Set aside.

Pre-heat the wok on high heat and add oil (2 tbsp). Heat the oil for 30 seconds before adding the ginger (1 piece) and garlic (2 cloves). Add dried shrimp (1 oz)s and let the oil bloom its flavor. Cook for 30 seconds until it becomes fragrant.

Add Chinese sausage (2 pieces) and cook for 30 seconds to render out the fat. Add white radish (2 lb) and stir-fry for 40-50 seconds, then add the shiitake mushroom (1.5 oz) and carrots (3 oz). Stir-fry for 30 seconds.

Add chicken broth (14 oz) and let simmer for about a minute. Add water (6 cups). Note that our measurements for water here is based on the size of our wok and what we taste we prefer. Adjust accordingly.

Let the soup come to a boil with the lid on the wok for about 2.5 to 3 minutes. In the meantime, drain rice balls. Once the soup is boiling, add the napa cabbage (1 lb) and king oyster mushrooms (4 oz). Put the lid back on and bring the soup to a boil again. This will take about 2 minutes.

Turn the heat down to medium and add the chicken (0.50 lb) that was marinating in cornstarch, salt, and water. Make sure to spread the pieces around the wok and submerge them in the hot soup so they cook evenly. Cook for about 40-50 seconds.

Add the marinated shrimps (5 oz) in the same way as the chicken. Spread out in the wok and submerged in the soup. Cook for one minute.

To season the soup, add salt (2 tsp), sugar, white pepper (0.25 tsp), sesame oil (1 tsp), soy sauce (1 tsp), and fish sauce (1 tsp). Mix and add spring onions (1 handful) and cilantro (1 handful).

Turn off heat, stir gently, add fish balls (8 oz). Let them warm up in the soup and add the cooked glutinous rice balls.

Finally, taste to adjust the flavors of the soup. Turn the heat back to high heat to bring the soup to a boil. Serve the soup piping hot. Serve once it's to your taste! This is usually served in a large serving pot or bowl and everyone can take the amount they want in smaller individual bowls.

Summary

Savory Tong Jyun (Sticky Rice Ball) (鹹湯圓)
Learn how to make this classic Toisanese dish (and my favorite dish of all time!)
  • Prep Time: 60 min
  • Total Time: 80 min
  • Yield: 6 servings
    Main Ingredients
  • 2 lb glutinous rice flour (

    If you are serving 3-4 people, 1lb is enough. You may need extra depending on softness/dryness later on.

    )
  • 1 oz dried shrimp
  • 1.5 oz dried shiitake mushroom
  • 5 oz fresh/thawed shrimp
  • 8 oz fish balls
  • 2 pieces Chinese sausage
  • 0.50 lb chicken breast
  • 4 oz king oyster mushroom
  • 2 lb white radish
  • 1 lb napa cabbage
  • 3 oz carrot
  • 1 handful cilantro
  • 1 handful spring onion
  • 1 piece ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 14 oz chicken broth
  • Soup Seasoning
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 0.25 tsp white pepper
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp dark soy sauce
  • 1 tsp fish sauce
  • Other Ingredients
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 0.50 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 16 oz hot water
  • 8 oz cold water
  • 6 cups water
  • 2 tbsp oil
Step 1 - Prepare ingredients↑ Jump to details

Wash and soak dried shrimps (1 oz) for 10 mins and dried shiitake mushrooms (1.5 oz) for 15 mins in warm water.

Devein fresh shrimps (5 oz) and marinate with cornstarch (2 tsp).

Once the shiitake mushrooms are fully hydrated, cut them into slices as well as the Chinese sausages (2 pieces).

Cut the chicken breast (0.50 lb) half length-wise then into thin slices. Marinate with cornstarch (1 tbsp), salt (0.50 tsp), and water (2 tbsp).

Peel and wash the white radish (2 lb). Cut diagonally in 1/4" slices. Lay the slices down, overlapping slightly, and chop them into strips.

Cut the end off napa cabbage (1 lb), separate the leaves and wash thoroughly. Cut the stems into 1/2" pieces and continue to chop the rest of the cabbage at 1" pieces.

For the carrot (3 oz), cut into thin strips. Smash and cut ginger (1 piece) and garlic (2 cloves).

Wash and roughly chop the spring onions (1 handful) and cilantro (1 handful).

Slice the king oyster mushroom (4 oz) into 1/2" slices and cut again into 1/4" strips.

Set all ingredients to the side and make your dough.

Step 2 - Make dough↑ Jump to details

In a large bowl, add rice flour (2 lb), stir slowly with chopsticks as you drizzle in hot water (16 oz). When it is safe to mix with your hands, do so and knead slowly until all the hot water has been mixed in. Add in cold water (8 oz).

You could use hot water for the total amount of water for the dough. However, it will be harder to knead at first. When we use both hot and cold water, the dough is easier to work with.

Knead the dough until well combined and becomes smooth. If the dough feels too soft, add more rice flour.

Or if you notice that the dough keeps sticking to your hands in clumps after kneading for a while, add some more rice flour to keep it from sticking to your hands. You can add about 1 oz of rice flour to the bowl with the dough and knead a bit more to make sure that it's dry enough to not stick to your hands but still maintains a slightly sticky consistency.

Step 3 - Create rice balls↑ Jump to details

Dust your working surface with a bit of rice flour. Take the dough into smaller pieces and roll them into long tubes on the working surface.

Cut them into your preferred size with a knife or cutter. We suggest you make them about an inch or an inch and a half in diameter.

Take a cut piece of dough and place it between your flattened palms. The top palm should push onto the dough and roll it around until it takes the form of a ball.

Step 4 - Boil rice balls↑ Jump to details

In a large wok, bring water to a boil. Add your rice balls and cook them with the lid on until they float. Make sure to stir occasionally so they don't stick to the wok. You know they're done when they float to the top. This takes about 7-8 minutes.

Remove rice balls and place them into a bowl of cold water. This prevents them from being too soft to be put back into the soup. It hardens and shrinks the balls. This also prevents the glutinous rice balls from sticking and, most importantly, it helps to keep the brother of the soup clear.

Set aside.

Step 5 - Stir-fry ingredients↑ Jump to details

Pre-heat the wok on high heat and add oil (2 tbsp). Heat the oil for 30 seconds before adding the ginger (1 piece) and garlic (2 cloves). Add dried shrimp (1 oz)s and let the oil bloom its flavor. Cook for 30 seconds until it becomes fragrant.

Add Chinese sausage (2 pieces) and cook for 30 seconds to render out the fat. Add white radish (2 lb) and stir-fry for 40-50 seconds, then add the shiitake mushroom (1.5 oz) and carrots (3 oz). Stir-fry for 30 seconds.

Step 6 - Add broth & cook ingredients↑ Jump to details

Add chicken broth (14 oz) and let simmer for about a minute. Add water (6 cups). Note that our measurements for water here is based on the size of our wok and what we taste we prefer. Adjust accordingly.

Let the soup come to a boil with the lid on the wok for about 2.5 to 3 minutes. In the meantime, drain rice balls. Once the soup is boiling, add the napa cabbage (1 lb) and king oyster mushrooms (4 oz). Put the lid back on and bring the soup to a boil again. This will take about 2 minutes.

Turn the heat down to medium and add the chicken (0.50 lb) that was marinating in cornstarch, salt, and water. Make sure to spread the pieces around the wok and submerge them in the hot soup so they cook evenly. Cook for about 40-50 seconds.

Add the marinated shrimps (5 oz) in the same way as the chicken. Spread out in the wok and submerged in the soup. Cook for one minute.

Step 7 - Add flavors & cooked ingredients↑ Jump to details

To season the soup, add salt (2 tsp), sugar, white pepper (0.25 tsp), sesame oil (1 tsp), soy sauce (1 tsp), and fish sauce (1 tsp). Mix and add spring onions (1 handful) and cilantro (1 handful).

Turn off heat, stir gently, add fish balls (8 oz). Let them warm up in the soup and add the cooked glutinous rice balls.

Step 8 - Taste test & serve↑ Jump to details

Finally, taste to adjust the flavors of the soup. Turn the heat back to high heat to bring the soup to a boil. Serve the soup piping hot. Serve once it's to your taste! This is usually served in a large serving pot or bowl and everyone can take the amount they want in smaller individual bowls.

Step 9 - Take pictures
Whip out your camera (1). Begin taking photos (1,000,000). Pick your favorites!
Step 10 - Share and tag us on Instagram @madewithlau #madewithlau!
Did you have fun making this recipe? We'd love to see & hear about it. (Especially my dad. He would be THRILLED!)

Enjoy!

We have many, many happy memories of enjoying this dish growing up.

Now, hopefully, you can create your own memories with this dish with your loved ones.

Also, I cordially invite you to eat with us and learn more about the dish, Chinese culture, and my family.

Cheers, and thanks for cooking with us!

Feel free to comment below if you have any questions about the recipe.